A5 3.0 TDI quattro hits Hertfordshire

Adrian Foster takes a drive in Audi's new BMW-beating A5 3.0 TDI quattro

THERE are lots of keen drivers who would give their eye teeth to own an Audi TT but can't because their days of driving two-seater sports cars are long gone. Family commitments dictate that they must have a four-seater. But for those who have the money, the prestige German car maker has the answer - in the shape of the delectible Audi A5.The A5 was never intended to be the TT's bigger brother, but its design is certainly as sporting and eye-catching. And the bonus is the A5 is a user-friendly four-seater coup�, not just a 2+2.There's a certain understated class to the new A5, but we can't help thinking that the company that made the TT could have been even more daring with this. The car's exterior gives us a foretaste of the appearance of the next A4 - think of it as an A4 coup� - the most distinctive features of which are the glowing LED 'eye liner' around the headlamps and the wavy belt line that runs the length of the car, from the rear lights to the headlamps.For the higher-mileage driver, the 3.0 TDI we tested makes light work of motorways, is very powerful and returns impressive fuel economy. It's not likely to be as much fun to drive as the sporty, higher-revving 3.2-litre V6, although the torquey V6 ensures you are always in the right gear for accelerating past slow moving traffic or hustling along back roads.Indeed, the A5 impresses on the road in the same way that a BMW 3-Series Coup� does. It's still more a comfortable, rather than razor-sharp driving experience and although accurate, the steering feels remote. Although body roll is kept under control, the A5 doesn't corner quite as sure-footedly as you might expect, the heavy nose feeling as though it's about to run wide.The Audi A5 comes well equipped safety-wise and, as you'd expect, comes with air bags all round, ABS and Audi's electronic stability programme. Cornering lights are optional and Audi's 'Comfort Key' debuts on the A5, logging mileage and servicing needs and can optionally be part of a keyless entry system. That means that you can leave the key in a bag or pocket and the car senses you approach and unlocks itself. Sleek and elegant German coup�s are nothing new, although the A5 is the first of this size that Audi has built in a long time. It's a good all-round package that comes close to matching the BMW 6-Series and the Mercedes-Benz CLK with a fine range of engines, impeccable build quality and an enjoyable driving experience. As has become expected of Audi, the car is packed with technology - some of which can be seen and some of which can't - living up to Audi's slogan: 'Vorsprung durch Technik'; progress through technology. Audi has needed this car for a long time to compete on equal terms with BMW. Now it does.FACTS AT A GLANCE

CAR Audi A5 3.0 TDI quattro

PRICE AS TESTED �33,775 on the road


CO2 EMISSIONS Maximum 191 g/km

PERFORMANCE Max Speed 155 mph; 0-62 mph 5.9 secs.

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FUEL CONSUMPTION 39.2 mpg (Combined)

STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES Driver and passengers front and side airbags; Audi Backguard; Adaptive lighting; Hill-hold Assist; Parking System Plus; Side Assist etc.

WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE? Length: 4625; Width: 1854; Height: 1372 (mm)

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